Wonder Crew dolls are something I've been writing about for ages. In fact, I first shared news of these toys nearly three years ago - back in March of 2015. Fast-forward a bit, and what we have is a repeat entry into my annual Holiday Wish Guide™ - a 2016 selection that's back for 2017. Launched independently via a successful Kickstarter campaign, Wonder Crew was eventually acquired by PlayMonster, and they've slowly begun popping up on shelves at more and more retailers as the movement has grown. They're dolls that were designed with boys in mind, but intended for all children... girls and boys alike.
My wife and I have been intrigued by the idea of a neighborhood library for awhile - an interest piqued by the growing Little Free Library movement. Perhaps you've seen them around - little boxes or buildings placed in a yard, each encouraging neighbors to take a book or leave a book for their neighbors to enjoy. Until now, those libraries were either built buy their caretakers or ordered from craftsman - but for inexperienced builders such as myself, none were really simple or affordable enough to make me pull the trigger. Then came some news out of Ohio that the team at The Simplay3 Company were working on a solution - a simpler option "for folks wanting to make a positive impact in their community." Their new Simplay3 Sharing Library is the end result of designers who found themselves inspired by the Little Free Library movement and wanted to get them into as many neighborhoods as possible.
Since 1964, the Hess Toy Truck has been an annual tradition of collectible holiday toys. For years, families on the east coast would look forward to the reveal of the annual Hess Toy Truck - which hasn't always been "a truck," but a high-quality vehicle offered at a great price and wrapped-up in signature green giftwrap, ready to roll for the holidays. Because it was an east coast thing, we'd missed out on it since we didn't have Hess Express gas stations here in the Midwest, but we really started getting into these around five years ago - ironically, just a year or so before Hess sold-off their gas stations. While the stores may be gone, the tradition of the truck lives on, and every year on November 1, a new Hess Toy Truck becomes available exclusively on HessToyTruck.com. We recently got our hands on the 2017 Hess Dump Truck and Loader (sent to us for review), and after seeing the girls eagerly crack it open, it's easy to see why it's a top pick in my annual Holiday Wish Guide™!
We've been fans of Playmonster's My Fairy Garden collection since we first discovered them a year or so ago. Having placed a fairy garden outside as part of our landscape every year, The Rock Daughters™ always have a habit of playing with the statues out there, and they're not really made for that since they're not toys. My Fairy Garden solves that problem by providing a real garden environment that kids can play with inside. Each kit comes with everything you need to build and grown the perfect spot for your fairy figures, and there's always room to expand, with a wide array of accessories and additional fairies available. Our original garden, the Magical Cottage, is still going strong, and this fall we added a new one to the mix - the Bean Blossom.
There is no question that in this house, our oldest daughter knows exactly what she wants to be when she grows up: a doctor. Addie is eight right now, and ever since she started watching Doc McStuffins a few years back, she's been obsessed with the medical profession - something that I hope sticks with her until adulthood. It's not often that young kids grow up to be exactly what they intended, but Addie seems destined for that path, and we watch her care for her dolls and toys each and every day. For other kids with a similar mindset, Little Medical School offers a selection of Play Medical Kits and accessories, all with the intention of "inspiring tomorrow's healthcare providers today." We recently received the Little Pediatrician Kit for review, and the reaction was immediate...
In doing what I do, I've been fortunate to see a lot of great toys cross my path over the past few years. For 2017, there's certainly been some highlights, but one of the best new toys was a late entry, and one that had escaped me until its makers hit me up earlier this fall and sent over one for review. When it comes to playsets, I grew up in an era that had a bunch of them - iconic sets from Star Wars, G.I. Joe and Masters of the Universe, to name a few. While there's no doubt that kids want the biggest and best, the grownup mentality is that there's a real problem with those awesome playsets... storage. Our girls have some incredible sets here, ranging from the Barbie Dream House to the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Sewer Lair. They're massively fun, but also massive in size... big, bulky plastic sets that aren't easy to store in-between adventures. Now, the makers of ReadySetz have emerged with their first playset - one that both provides a fun environment for imaginative play and solves the space problem. It's one of 2017's coolest new toys, and one you've likely never heard of.